31 December 2007

Continental Divide Cabin Hut Trip


Temps maxed out at 7F as we skiied into the Continental Divide Cabin (10th Mtn Hut site) near Tenessee Pass (500K topo).

This hut didn't have great views like most of the other huts but it was only a mile ski in - a perfect trip for the kids (See Dillon and Julia at left). Someone had built igloos outside. Good fun for the kids and us too. Much thanks to Jaimie and Brianna and Ben-Ben for inviting us.

More pics here!

26 December 2007

A white Christmas


We had a white christmas this year. Snow on the ground is not too uncommmon but it actually snowed all day! Here's a shot of Julia at the back door. Good day with the usual excellent Christmas dinner party!

Here's a few more pics of getting the tree, christmas eve skating, the christmas eve bobcat and christmas day!

24 December 2007

The Christmas Eve Bobcat


Mia called down the hall - BOBCAT!!
Julia and I ran down to get a look. Where? Where? Mia says - Behind the rock! It was a beaut, alright.

I ran off the get the camera and wonder of wonders - even got a few decent pics. Click here for a few more.

17 December 2007

Steve's 50th party

This was a great party! Here's a shot of me holding the guys up. (L2R - Bob Wood, me, Bob Horan, Chris Kulish). Now that I think of it, the chronology is interesting. Bob Horan and I climbed everywhere when I first came out to Colorado, Castleton Tower, Supercrack & the Titan in 2 days was a highlight for our first trip to Utah. Chris Kulish and I met because we had (past tense) the same girlfriend. Standing Rock was one of our big climbs. Bob Wood & I have done quite a bit of canyoneering as of late w/ a few first descents mixed in.

Thanks to Mia for setting it up. A few friends showed up that I haven't seen for years, namely Bob Horan & Chris. I didn't get too many pictures 'cause it was just too much fun.

A few more 50th related pics here.

13 December 2007

Steve is 50 !!

This was my present to myself on my 50th birthday! It was a real joy to hike to Chasm Lake junction (topo) by myself. I sprung the question on Mia in the morning - "Do you mind if I take a little hike, honey? without Julia and you? Please?" How could she say no .. on my 50th?

I was well rewarded with bitter cold but blue skies. A nice winter day on Long's Peak. I hadn't been close to the Diamond since my accident over 10 years ago. Nice to hike to 11.5k and not a bad time either - for 50. Hah!

Sorry for the ugly mug shot. I'm usually much more handsome but you try holding the camera at arm's length in a 60mph wind AND trying to capture oneself AND the Diamond AND look good when your face is frozen. Well the looking good didn't happen ..

I was back in plenty time for a shower and shave before we went to Radda Trattoria for dinner - Great Italian Food!

12 November 2007

Halloween in Jessica's neighborhood


Our neighborhood in the foothills doesn't lend itself to efficient trick or treating - so we headed out east to visit our friends the Coopers in Firestone. Jessica & Julia had a riot - see above. Tom & Karen, thanks for the invite!

01 November 2007

A first ascent - Jacks Knob


Jacks Knob (topo, pic) was deep in northern Robber's Roost territory. A few years back, Bill had discovered it on one of his forays.

We wandered around the tower a few times, trying to pick out the best line with the least amount of "adventure" rock. That decided - Bill headed up.
At one point, he "disengaged" from the rock when a stopper blew.
He called down - Is there any way to gracefully get out of here?
I said - Let me think ... Hmmm, no, I don't think so ...
After a bit of thought, Bill excavated a stopper placement and continued.

The climb naturally broke into 3 pitches. (The picture, at left, shows Bill at the 1st belay.) The 2nd overhanging pitch was mine. Having to go free at the lip of the overhang was my excitement. Lots of "adventure" rock on the last pitch brought us to the summit, where we lingered ... enjoying the moments ... and discovering the bones flown in by raptors.

Watching the tower's shadow march across the Roost reminded us we still had to engineer our way down.

Good trip! More pics here!

22 October 2007

Julia, try it! I'm making it with love ..

Mia was off on a girls canyoneering trip, so I was cooking dinner. Julia is pretty picky with food so I thought I'd try a different approach.

Papa: Hey Julia, You'll have to try my steak sauce. I'm making it with love!
Julia: Is it white sauce? I only love white sauce.
Papa: .. but it's made with love ..
So much for that approach .. (Actually, I think she sort of liked it a little bit.)

It's pretty amazing what she's learning at kindergarten. Julia asks how to write a word. I'll say the letters and she can write most of them. I don't know why the kids are pushed to do this in kindergarten. I didn't learn so early. In Germany, Julia's nephews Max and Florian, didn't learn writing until 1st grade.

17 October 2007

Fall in Colorado

Here's a couple of pics from last weekend. The first is a collage of Aspens, Cottonwoods, Junipers and Pinon in the San Luis Valley.



This second picture is from the next day, driving 285 through South Park. Yah, winter's a coming.

06 October 2007

A visit to Dad

My sister, Laura, gave me a call. She told me about Dad's kidney problems and said I need to come out. I called Dad. He didn't want me to come out in a few weeks because he might be spending time doing medical tests. In other words, he didn't want me out when he might be having trouble and needed support. He wanted me out when he was feeling good and could do stuff. That's my dad ..

I left Friday afternoon and stopped at a rest area West of Des Moines around midnight. I tossed my sleeping bag out close to the adjacent corn field. (When will I grow up? Most 49 year olds would just sleep in a hotel.) Sleep didn't come easily though. I kept dreaming someone would walk up and steal my prosthesis. That would really blow - stuck in the middle of Iowa without my leg.

Dad & Mom looked the same as last year. After a tour of the garden, Dad had rhododendrons to plant. My job was to do a bit of digging, bust up the dirt clods and mix in the mulch. I was going to help more but as I watched Dad, I realized I was watching a master gardener. He had picked a location with just the right amount of winter sun and summer sun. Planting was his joy. I didn't want to intrude too much.

We went for a walk the next day on a trail next to the Illinois & Michigan canal. This canal was a link in a water route from the East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico. The trail was a hiking and bike path. The canal is canoeable also. We had a nice walk. Seeing a group of Egrets was a bonus.


The Dr. has not nailed down the kidney problem yet. I think Dad is still finding his boundaries with the problem. My appearance prompted more activity and different food than Dad was used to. By Wednesday he wasn't feeling good and the Dr. said go to the ER. Of course, Dad had to have breakfast first ... An hour later, he was getting dressed - still. Mom said he's a slow dresser .. It's good that Laura is a nurse at Silver Cross hospital. She could walk down to be with us. After testing and an increase in lasix, to reduce fluid retention, Dad was discharged.

Dad & Mom have a number of decisions ahead but Dad is stable for now. I drove back to Colorado in one 16 hour haul, including stops. I could never have done it without the U.S. history cds. It was even fun.

Here's a few more pictures of the family AND the Illinois & Michigan canal.

05 October 2007

Cripple Creek Mining & the Molly Kathleen Mine Tour

1000 feet underground ... My body shook, my vision blurred, 5 deep, strong, hearty blasts were felt ... more than heard. What was happening? I really wanted it to be done. OK, please stop now .. When it was over - 30 seconds later, Chuck said that was NOT part of the tour. I understand why. I'm sure many would soil their trousers. In any case, mining goes on and it was closer than expected this day.

A rainy day at the Shelf Road climbing area chased us upstairs to the town of Cripple Creek (satellite view, Wikipedia)- the famous gold mining town. I've always wanted to do the Molly Kathleen mine tour and now was the time.

Chuck was a great tour guide. He still has his fingers in mining and told some great stories, like the time his light went out. He was in a crosscut between the Molly Kathleen and an adjacent mine. He crawled for 2-1/2 hours before he found light again.

The Molly Kathleen is still being mined. I had no idea. Lot's of gold still but the processing is more expensive than it used to be. Unless grandfathered in, a mine can no longer use cyanide to process their ore. Mines have to ship the ore to Canada to process. This really kills the profit of course. The mines ship the ore to Canada during the winter, when the train shipping costs are down.

Chuck was a great guide. Our group of 9 entered 2 "cars" over the shaft. Chuck said - You see the town down there? We are going 400 ft below that. This was a really good visual of our destination depth. He demonstrated operation of much of the equipment when he could and explained the rest. Julia had a great time. We'll be back again. More for me than for Julia. I've always hankered to do more than just gold pan mining.

More pics here


27 September 2007

The school is 'humongous'

Tonight, Julia told me that Ms. Bogner's class was close to the bathrooms but Ms. Matheny's class was not at all close to the bathrooms.
I said - The school isn't that big, is it?
Julia said - The school is humongous.

Where does a 5 year old get this stuff?

17 September 2007

A September Day Around Breckenridge


This is the perfect hike for a youngster - provided you have a high clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead. This hike has lots to see in a short distance, scenery and historic value. What more could you ask? Better weather would help but the cold and rain reminded us summer was about done and skiing was coming soon!

After half a mile, one arrives at Mayflower Lake. This is surrounded by old miner's cabins. Nice spot but it gets better. About 3/4 mile, we stumbled upon the Continental Cabin which is somewhat restored and a good place to hang out in the rain. Yes, it was raining off and on. As we hiked up, we told Julia stories about the miners. Then we found a mining adit, a horizontal shaft. Interesting that there was a warning sign here to stay the heck out and stay alive. Probably a smart idea ... This really fit into the stories, of course.
Even better, we found wild rasberries. Yum!

A mile from the trailhead was Lower Mohawk Lake (topo, picture) and a great lunch spot. We had hoped to get to Upper Mohawk Lake but it started raining again and it was cold. It was time to get to the Octoberfest in Breck anyway.

The German weather cleared out much of the Octoberfest crowds. This made it easier for us to get Bratwursts and a Weissbier. More room for dancing to the Austrian band too.

More pics here!

11 September 2007

Getting together with an old friend - Al Torrisi

We haven't seen Al since we climbed at Rumney, NH last year. Good to see him and meet his wife, Deb.

Mia whipped up a great dinner. Deb and Julia hit it off when Deb decided Julia needed her nails painted. (Oh, man ..) Four bottles of wine and we woke up the next morning ready for a hike up Mt. Audubon (topo). Well, sort of. That wine plagued us a bit during the day. Good stuff. We hope to see Al & Deb again soon.

06 September 2007

Climbing in the Black Hills with the Woods and Coopers


The featured photo shows Bob Wood climbing in the Chopping Block area of the Rushmore Needles. Typical of the beautiful scenery up there ...

The kids really enjoyed the opportunity to get together - unlike last trip when Julia was stuck w/ us for most of the time.

Night time entertainment was provided by Bob and Garett and their instruments.

More photos here! (Added to the end of the Aug Black Hills Climbing Trip)

26 August 2007

Julia's 1st day of Kindergarten

Exciting day for Julia and us ... Here's Julia waiting for the school bus w/ Mia - maybe a bit of apprehension in her face.

Then there's the picture of Julia's face lit up and excited when she see the bus (featured to the right).

The final is Julia stepping into the bus.

Our life won't be the same ...

23 August 2007

Wyoming's Bighorn Range - Climbing & Exploring


If I felt my job was secure until retirement, I'd want to move here. Even if I didn't .. Mia vetoed any such ideas quickly though. She needed face to face contact for her work. I work remote and need only a decent internet connection. Such is life. Maybe later...

The Bighorn Mountains are the most easterly mountain range in Wyoming. The Winds are to the West and the Tetons West of that. The Bighorns are more sedate than either but the exploration potential is huge - especially from the pure rock climbing perspective. Dolomite/ Limestone is everywhere and not just the little cliffs like Wild Iris or Sinks. It would be expensive to live here for a climber. Think of the cost of bolts for new routes ... I saw the alpine rock only from a distance - more jaw dropping terrain. And the Winds a few hours West. Damn! As I said .. maybe later.

Climbing was good in Tensleep Canyon. We checked Raven Wall and vicinity and French Cattle Ranch. Above Raven Wall is an "Indian" ice cave. Even in hot weather, you need a pullover to climb nearby. It blows cold! The 5.10s on Raven Wall + a number of new nearby routes made for a great day. French Cattle Ranch was a hike but well worth it. Good quality and long routes.

On a rest day, we drove up to Lower Medicine Lodge Lake via Hyattville. Beautiful country but it took about 2 hours on 4x4 roads. Glad it was Mia's idea. The hike around the lake was calming .. after hitting my head on the roof for 2 hours. This convinced me I need an on board compressor so I can air down the tires and air them back up after the goods. I wish I had a fishing pole and some time here but we were out of food and everyone was getting grumpy.

We drove North to Shell Canyon semi Baja style (i.e. fast) and it still took an hour to get to a paved road. (Shell Canyon could see a lot of route development on granite. Just frigging heartbreakin'. No one around to climb the stuff.) We found a nice restaurant in Shell and ate. We were lucky. It seemed to be one of two places in town and it was reservation only. They took pity on us since we were early. Wagon Wheel restaurant - good place - reserve a place on the deck if you have a chance.

On the way home, we found the "perfect" camping place. This will be the subject of a later post.

Pics are here. Enjoy!

21 August 2007

Black Hills - Climbing, and the Harley Culture


We picked a loud time to climb in the Black Hills. It was the week before the Sturgis Harley motorcycle ralley. We saw thousands of bikes every day. The campground was filled with them and their fanatic culture - awake at dawn, cleaning their bikes before even taking their morning pee. Crazy like Islam might be to a Christian fundamentalist .. They were all nice folks though!

The good part was that all the climbers were elsewhere, the climbers familar with the ralley anyway. We had the climbing areas to ourselves. We would have been climbing all day except for the daily afternoon rain and the draw of good ice cream in Custer.

Bill Daniels and his daughter, Sara, joined us for a day so we could get a couple of decent climbing shots. Above is Bill on Hrum Hroom, a great 5.7 in Custer State Park (official site, map). Many climbs in the park are quite run-out so no sniffing at 5.7s here. We also climbed in the Rushmore Needles. See a nice climbing shot of Julia here.

At some point, we said enough and left for Tensleep Canyon in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. Stay tuned.

Black Hills pics, including motorcycles, here!

01 August 2007

Leaving Crestone .. for now


Kept looking in the mirror as I headed West on County Road T. Hard to leave. Couple of wet spots appeared on my shirt. Must be a quick cloud burst through the open window ...

We had a fantastic 6 weeks of experience here. Now it was time to hand it back to the our great renter.


Coming home to Boulder was not really like coming home. It was like coming to a different familiar place. A place where the weeds need whacking and where it seemed harder to schedule free time to exercise. In Crestone, free time meant exploring. In Boulder, it's excercise. Maybe that says it all and I just need a change. I dunno what it is .. maybe Boulder has become boring ...

25 July 2007

17 July 2007

Bouldering in the Valley .. that's the San Luis Valley



We found the SLV is host to GREAT bouldering.

We found square miles of boulders at Elephant Rocks, 1st photo on left. A little searching is required to find the better rocks because Elephant Rocks is an absolute maze! I can see creating some convoluted bouldering/ orienteering/ running circuits here. Just need some time ... Location is here!

The boulders under South Eagle Rock are built of cobbles & pockets of joy. See middle photo. Christy said it's like a combination of Maple Canyon and El Rito. The bouldering is a friggin' riot. At the top of every problem, we'd be saying - Wow, that was fun! There is good bouldering for kids too, see right photo above. We found this out the scary way. Julia yelled - Mama, Papa, I'm on top. Mia & I looked at each other and said - On top of what? as we scrambled to find which boulder she was on top of. Oh man! - what have we created?!

Oh, I forgot to mention that some of the boulders under South Eagle Rock (photo, topo) are big, bigger than some sport climbs. What is really fascinating though is what I'm calling South Eagle Rock itself. [Bob D'Antonio's guide to SLV describes the boulders as being under Eagle Rock. This is incorrect, at least in the old 1994 guide that I have. Later, we found the real Eagle Rock (photo, topo)]. If South Eagle Rock is of good quality as the boulders below, it needs attention!

Click on the photo mosaic above for more pictures!

16 July 2007

A hike up Mount Ouray



Looming about Mia & Julia is Mount Ouray (topo) - a 14'eer wannabe at 13,971'. Mount Ouray is in the Southern Sawatch range. We haven't done a peak in years. Now that Julia is getting bigger and stronger, we have a chance. Julia hiked to about 13,200'. With the clouds moving in, Christy & Dave volunteered to walk Julia down. Thanks Guys!!

More pics here!

10 July 2007

Exploring the SE San Juan Range


We made our first foray into the Southeastern San Juan range last weekend. This area is much less traveled than the "normal" San Juans, i.e. Silverton, Lake City, Durango, Ouray, Telluride etc. It does not have the jaw dropping rugged mountain views but it does have jaw dropping pastoral mountain views and remoteness.

Starting at Antonito, we drove west thru the beautiful Conejos River Valley. Lot's of crags on the North side of the road. After Horca, we headed generally NE toward Platoro Reservoir. Along the Lake Fork of the Conejos, I had trouble staying on the road while driving. I wasn't even drinking. There was SO MUCH ROCK of different types. Even if only a fraction of it were of climbable quality, it could be a destination area. I didn't see many cracks which means it would have to be developed (bolted). Unfortunately climbers in this region are rare. More on this another time since I didn't have time to stop and hike up.

We made a nice camp at Lily Pond Lake (11,900') near Stunner Pass. While getting firewood, I let Julia find her way back to camp. While great practice, I'm very glad it was practice. :-)

We drove up to Kerr Lake the next day. We hiked around the lake while teasing the fish. No go there. We did attract two DOW officers though. There was another group close by. The officers split up and one came towards each group. I couldn't see a uniform until the last 50 feet when he opened his vest. I did NOT like this approach and was worried about our family's safety until this point. I was getting into defense postion until at last I saw his uniform. He was a nice guy, of course, after we talked. Bad way to approach though. I could see being a DOW officer ... getting out in the forest on a daily basis.

We headed towards the Stunner mining camp, past the Crater Lake trailhead and then to the infamous Summitville - where the environment mining disaster happened. The entire area is worth much more exploring. We'll be back. This was only the first foray.

I mapped the general route here.
All the pics are here.

04 July 2007

A Crestone Independence Day Celebration

Tuesday night we had BBQ & beer at the Silver Crest Palace while listening to live music. The bar has 18 beer taps! That's right, 18 - and they're all in use. Talked to some nice folks while Julia found new friends to play with.

The morning of Independence Day, we ran the Crestone 5k race. Julia did great. It certainly helped that more new friends ran next to her. Yeah, we did a bit of walking but 3 miles is a long way for a 5 year old! (Me too ...)

More festivities later on .. live music, spiritual exhibits, etc ... could have been some food too but I forgot the wallet at home. Again Julia found her new, old friends to play with. Seems to be a common theme. It's certainly easier to find children here.

4th of July pics here!

BTW, That's Julia in the picture under 4 of the 14'eers - Challenger, Kit Carson and the two Crestones.

03 July 2007

Between Saguache and Ohio Pass

We drove 114 between Saguache and Gunnison (map). Beautiful country. Reminds me of Wyoming's South Pass region, south of Lander. By the time we reached North Pass (topo), I realized there was much to explore in this little traveled region. Yeah, 114 was paved but we had passed only a few vehicles since Saguache. Only need more time ...

Gunnison was bustling with activity. At a population of 5000, it was 10 times as populated as Saguache and Saguache has 8 times as many people as Crestone. It was fun. We stopped in a sports store to pick up fishing licenses and then to the climbing/ bike shop for a guide to Taylor Canyon. I hadn't climbed in Taylor Canyon for 27 years. Mia hadn't ever. I DID remember that Taylor was a funky place ..

We found a great place to camp at the North Bank campground. The site was next to the Taylor River and next to another site with 2 kids. Perfect for everyone. The in place for the kids to play turned out to be the bed in the truck. That made them easy to keep track of. Also we could walk to the crags.

The old guide we picked up left much to the imagination (c'mon Fred, where's that new Sharp End guide?). Climbing with Julia makes it a bit more of a challenge to pick out routes that we can get down from - ie. one pitch routes. We started w/ Tony's Tango (Mia leading), a really nice 5.6. I led Left Hand, a 5.8+. Both were exellent routes. I remembed why Taylor's Canyon is funky though .. realistic ratings can be obtained by adding a full grade to the grade in High Country Stone guide. Julia climbed and we toproped a few more routes - then it was HOT !!

So we headed up to Crested Butte for ice cream .. and did a driveby of the cliffs along Cement Creek when Julia fell asleep on the way. CB is fun. We had Pizza and beer too - after the ice cream. A scenic drive via Lake Irwin and Ohio Pass (pic) took us back to camp.

Sunday was to be hot also. Mia was still cooked so we drove to a small climbing area near Powderhorn hoping to find some shade. We did one climb in the sun and Mia called it quits. Even at 9000 feet, it was still too hot. The rock at Powderhorn looked like crap but was actually pretty decent. I'd come back if in the area.

Driving back via Powderhorn (map), Cebolla Creek, Cochetopa Pass was worth the detour. We also saw lot's of potential new crags ... just need more time.

Trip pics here !!

28 June 2007

Rain, Sunset and Views over the Valley


A few days ago we had a good rain, a nice rainbow, a stunning sunset but what pulled at me was a view of the vibrant San Luis Valley layered in green (see pic).

A hike to South Crestone Lake

As we headed up the trail, the views only became better as we looked west over the San Luis Valley. South Crestone lake was about 3000 ft above the trailhead. Shivani & Joe, local friends, joined us.

There was one variation to the excitement of the scenery as we headed up. I heard a deep "muuf" in a steep and heavily wooded area. I heard it again and knew what it was - a bear. Then Shivani heard it. Mia had moved ahead, by herself, to find a bush. Then we heard a louder "MUUF" and a crashing in the bushes. Sort of like a short charge. I started yelling to see if Mia was ok. No answser .. as we stayed together and moved up the trail calling to Mia. Finally she called back, not having a clue what had happened. We were relieved to say the least.

The lake was worth the hike. Julia especially like the dipping as always.

Julia did great. Mia carried her only a 1/2 mile on the way up. On the way down, about 1-1/2 miles from the trailhead, she finally said - Papa, my legs hurt. It was time. She did SO good hiking. I'm glad Joe was there to help carrying too! I was pretty beat. Good day!

Pics here!

25 June 2007

My sister visits Crestone

My sister finagled a conference in Denver with a few of her cohorts. They squeezed in some rafting near Buena Vista before staying the night at our place in Crestone. (Oh yeah - then they drove back and attended the conference.)

I didn't get much attention though. Julia got most of that!

We did get a decent picture together at least. It's pretty obvious that I got the good looks. Laura does look pretty good though ... for her age! I'm glad Laura doesn't live close or I'd be hamburger!! :-)

24 June 2007

New Rock Climbing Area Discovered Above Crestone


I've been looking for decent rock close to Crestone. Penitente Canyon is across the valley but that is a two hour roundtrip. Sure there's plenty of technical mountaineering routes above Crestone but these usually require a two day commitment. I'm looking for after work climbing or areas I can access for a day of fun.

After much scoping, I decided on a rock to check out in person. This is a serious decision because I only have time after work to run the recons. Of course, my experienced eye keeps the odds in my favor.

I started from Willow Lake TH and headed cross country. Up a hillside, down into a drainage, up a hillside, up a ridge and friggin' BINGO!! I lucked out and found my rock without much trouble. Effort - yes, trouble - no :-) And only a 1/2 hour approach.
I was expecting I would have it to myself to develop but it had been already found and developed. Routes had been bolted! The rock didn't lend itself to gear routes - hence the bolts.

We returned the next day, Saturday. First route was mine, a nice 5.8-. Then Mia led a 5.10/ 5.10+ depending on line and height. My line through the three overhangs was direct and reachy for my 5'-5" stature, leading to my grading of 10+ . This one needed more traffic. It was sort of gravelly in places. Then, I led one of the best short climbs of my life. It started as a traverse over a cave - instant exposure (see photo of me above). Then there was a belay but I continued w/ long slings to keep the rope drag down. The next bolt was 35 ft up but there were flakes everywhere. A sling over a flake kept my anxiety down. The sense of exposure was constant. The crux was bypassing a raptor's nest which was full of hair. After 190 ft of finesse, I sat on top, clipped the anchors and sucked in the view.
Finesse is required on this route, the granite is not as solid as Lumpy Ridge. I've climbed a lot of good routes over the years but this one really stands out - especially for a one / two pitch route!

Here's the cliff, I'll mark in the routes as I have time. Also I'll get some GPS coords. Stay tuned.

19 June 2007

Climbing at El Rito, New Mexico

We climbed here 3 years ago. We forgot how much fun El Rito (Mountain Project, map) was. I bet we'll back within 3 weeks. El Rito is similar to Maple Canyon, Utah in that the rock is cobbled. It's different because one usually pulls on the pockets between the cobbles. In Maple Canyon, one pulls on the cobbles.

Beside great climbing, it was also Mia's birthday on Saturday. We poked around in El Rito, for a restaurant, and found Walt's Place. Walt's was a beautiful, rustic place but lacked a liquor license. Luckily, I could pick up a bottle of wine close by. We had pork ribs all around. Julia loves ribs. We'll be back!

I don't know if the climbing suited us or if the grading was soft but we both pulled off a 5.11a on Father's Day. We really hadn't been climbing that much lately.

We took off a bit early to swim at Abiquiu Reservoir and drive thru Chama on the way home. What a drive! Lot's of eye candy! Trip pics here!

14 June 2007

The land where nuns drive pickup trucks

I did a double take on a large white object sitting on the driver's head. A bit more focus and I figured it out. It was a nun wearing a habit driving an old beater pickup truck. This was Crestone, Colorado (map, sangres.com).

We're breaking away from Boulder for awhile. Our Crestone renter was taking a vacation and we "needed" to fill in. Luckily we have a fast internet connection so we can work. Julia is going to the Rahula Community Preschool.

It will be interesting living in rural Colorado. Crestone fills a nice little pocket of the San Luis Valley and the eye candy in the valley is awesome! It's a lot quieter than the Colorado front range but will it be too quiet? So far not. Climbing, hiking and biking is working fine and oh yes .. working. One thing is the same as Boulder. Crestone has a B20 pump (20% biodiesel). More to come ...

Oh yeah, Julia's pushing the 5.7 climbs at Penitente Canyon - especially if we pull her just a little. :-)

04 June 2007

Flowers busting up the yard!

The wet, cool spring have the flowers busting some colors in the yard. I've made an attempt at photographing and naming them. Help me if you can.

Here's the flower pictures so far. I'll add as I find more.

Oh yeah, I think the flower to the left is a Western Spiderwort.

03 June 2007

Climbing and Camping at Sinks Canyon, Wyoming

We found a great camp in Sinks Canyon State Park with the Popo Agie (pronounced "po PO' zha") River backing the camp site. The river was a bit loud with the spring runoff. We didn't complain too much though because we could see this view from the site.

Some kids adopted Julia the next morning or was it the other way around? This really made the trip for Julia. Especially on Sunday, when we took all the kids climbing ...

Climbing was good. Cool on Saturday, warm to hot on Sunday. A little heat was nice after the cool temps at home in Colorado. From the cliffs, we could see the Wind River Range to the West. Can't beat that! Click on the picture above will display a better view of the Winds to Julia's left.

More photos here !

30 May 2007

Almost June and still cool and wet ..

Mist over the front yard on May 29th. Still cool and wet. The grass, flowers and trees love it. We've had a few decently warm days this spring but not many.

22 May 2007

What if Julia were snatched?

We all talk about this from time to time. What if someone tried to steal Julia? She knows to yell "Help!" and "I don't know you you!" but I was thinking it was time to add additional things, like fighting back, like punching the @sshole in the nuts. Mia nixed that but Julia came up with an interesting comment.

She said when she's older she would need to be trained in how to take care of guys like this. Unsure of where she was going with this, I asked her "What kind of training?" Sincerely she said "I need to learn how to sword fight. Then you wouldn't have to worry about me"

That's my daughter!

21 May 2007

Climbing above Boulder :: A great spring weekend (Sunday)


A day like this is what Boulder is all about. I spotted a little flatiron a few years back and thought - what a great easy climb for kids.

It was 3 shorter pitches and has an easy scramble off. Ideal for a first climb. We're calling it the Little Guy Flatiron. It's below Shanahan Crag. The hard part was the hike up. We were both worried when Julia wanted to be carried 10 minutes into the hike. Luckily, the bribes of skittles candy and whipping pine cones at the forest gnomes and fir cones at the elfs got us to the base of the flatiron.

I belayed Mia and Julia at the same time so they could climb together. Mia could assist Julia if needed also. We were all smiles as we reached the summit. What a fun day !!

More pics here!

Biking in Boulder :: A great spring weekend (Saturday)

Saturday morning we cruised East, on our bikes, along the Boulder Creek path. Julia was on the trailer bike behind Mia. The water was high and smell of new growth filled our noses. We enjoyed the nice views of the mountains and flatirons as we rode South. I've been in Boulder for 27 years but I still love the views!

After the ride, we strolled through the downtown farmer's market, bought some veggies, listened to the band and had lunch.

Later, we stopped by Sally Moser and her roomate, Mike's, party. South Boulder was rocking. The band was way more than good. The other draw was roasted pig. The hog tasted way more than good too. Ron was the roast meister. Sally, Ron & Mike - Thanks for the party!

15 May 2007

Papas climbing with their kids

No breakfast in bed for Mia on Mother's Day. She was on a Girl's canyoneering trip scheduled long ago - before she realized it was Mother's Day weekend.

I met w/ David Kozak and his daugher, Sasha (6) at Shelf Road for a weekend climbing. David invited Mark Williamson and his boys, Dillon (7) and Cactus Jack (3). Jack was named Cactus Jack just the day before when Cholla Cactus gravitated to him 3 different times. Poor Jack!

The kids had a riot together while the papas had fun climbing. It's amazing watching the interaction of the kids. I had totally forgotten how much fun catching grasshoppers was. Dillon made sure all the kids knew how! :-)

Saturday evening, we saw a double rainbow. Julia took off, with the kids after her, to find the pot at the end of the rainbow. We watched until she was 1/4 mile away. The other kids were yelling - come back, Julia! No response as she slid under a barb wire fence and continued. What was she thinking? I fired up the truck for the chase - she was close to a road at this point .. if I drove fast. Luckily, the rainbow died out and she turned around.
David said - wait until she gets older ...

06 May 2007

Is this the right canyon?

We had a writeup for the canyon, Good Day Jim, on Ticaboo Mesa. It was from a friend. There was a keeper pothole early on. We never saw it and we were well into the goods. We read the description again, after warming up after yet another swim. We decided the keeper must have been filled up w/ sand since our friends did it. Not too uncommon. We made the description fit our canyon - not that it had to, as long as we had long enough ropes.

The canyon stayed in our face. Lot's of water. Everyone was shivering at some point. Many narrow sections. At one point, it had to back off a few times to figure out where to put my chest. I finally ended up crawling on the ground. Chris went high and Bob came across at an an intermediate position. The girls asked: What is the problem, guys? I say: Get some chest! ;-)

It was one of the best canyons we've done on our family canyon trips. Some good laughs too, like when Bob spotted Chris down into a pool. As Chris got close to the water, Bob launched him into the deep section!

Garett, Emma & Julia had a great time too. Roselle took care of the kids. Roselle's daughter, little Sara had a great time too. Here's a pic of little Sara & Julia.

Back at camp, we consulted the Hard Day Harvey canyon description and map. It was pretty obvious, I'd switched the GPS waypoints of the two canyons.

If you're interested, here's the correct coords. Good Day Jim and Bad Day Harvey.

The view from camp was phenomenal. After a few hours solving the worlds problems, we hit the sack. We had another canyon tomorrow along with the drive home.

The main fork of Maidenwater canyon (topo, picture) was a good canyon, on Sunday, even if Hard Day Harvey was a tough act to follow. The rattle snake provided some good entertainment in Maidenwater.

The full set of pics for the Haaland/ Wood / Mestdagh 2007 spring family canyoneering trip are HERE !!

30 April 2007

Julia's 5th Birthday Party


Julia's a big girl now. She's been talking about her party for weeks now. Finally it happened. Luckily, the weather held for a treasure hunt, pinyata beating and a grill out. Everyone had fun.

New pink dress courtesy of Grandma & Grandpa Mestdagh. Thanks!

The full set of pics are here!

20 April 2007

Julia paints her Papa's toenails

I never thought I'd see the day that I'd get my toenails painted - only 5 of them but still ..

Here's a closeup of the master, Julia, at work.

19 April 2007

A week in Western Deserts

The goal was a climbing trip to Joshua Tree National Park, California. I hadn't been to JT since spring 1986 when Chris Haaland, Steve Vanderburgh, Doug Frost and I found some $60 RT tickets to San Diego. Our rental car was not available so they gave us a Lincoln. What a trip that was!

This trip started out great. We camped at the Fremont Indian State Park, west of Richfield, UT. We woke up and found they were just about to have an Easter egg hunt. Perfect timing for Julia.

Later, we drove thru the Mojave National Preserve, in (drumroll...) the Mojave desert, California. The restored train depot/ museum at Kelso (sat map) was really cool. I'd like to spend more time poking around the old mining towns.

We had 4 beautiful days of climbing and enjoying Joshua Tree before the sandstorm hit. Even then we squeezed in two climbs the day it started snowing. Well, the 2nd climb wasn't totally snow free .. It was really strange. One minute the sky was blue, the next minute it was cloudy, then it was tan from the sand. It really wasn't even windy until some time later. Then it started snowing. Back at camp, we decided to pack it in and head to the Las Vegas area.

A day climbing at Red Rocks NCA (official cheesy BLM site, Supertopo climbing site) on Friday was a good way to break up the drive on the way back. We had to stop at the Bonnie Springs Ranch (sat map, pic) to see the old mining town and petting zoo. This isn't an ordinary petting zoo. We were suprised to see a Canadian Lynx and 2 Wolfs. They looked too healthy to pet though.

A beautiful primitive camp and a hike in Arches National Park finished off the trip.

Trip pictures here.

05 April 2007

New foot - the good, the bad and the naked

Actually a new foot shell. My old foot was trashed. The knife demonstrates the depth of a rip in the heel. The pine needles show where the big toe is almost ripped off.
My naked carbon fiber / kevlar / titanium prosthesis is in the background. (As usual, click image for a better view.)

04 April 2007

Cheesebox Canyon - BoyZrUs Canyoneering Trip

The West Fork of Cheesebox wasn't a gruntfest of slotness (Hmm, that doesn't sound so great. Oh well.) like some of our recent trips but it was a winner in variety and beauty. The water was cold though and we used many tricks to stay out of it. We still got wet. Real wet. Don't let the pics fool you you. Both Bob Wood & Charlie King wore wetsuits under their clothes and were happy about it. Luckily there was only one real swimming section. Of course, when Charlie or Bob went first, they'd say - Only chest deep, no problem. This translates to nose deep for me!

There's a lot to exploring to do around here. Without trying we bumped into an Anasazi ruin and Charlie found a nice arrowhead point.

After the canyon, we continued driving on Cheesebox Road. It became much rougher and turned into 4WD before we hit a decent dirt road. Another half hour of wondering where we were driving and we found a good camp. Here's a great view from close to camp. Wooden Shoe Canyon is in the distance. There's roads all over the place around here and they ALL go to cool places that need exploring. It's a definite problem! Since I strained my foot in one of the pools and Charlie hurt his knee, we decided to explore by vehicle. Gorgeous country ... Saw turkeys too.

Here's part of the route we took. Red is road. Blue is our canyoneering route. At our most northern point, the snow got too deep so we backtracked for 1/2 hour until we could travel East to Blanding (not marked).

All the trip pics are here!

27 March 2007

Julia and her first bear

Back to June 2003 - Julia was 15 months old ..
We were sitting on the ground, in the woods behind the house. We were playing with nature's toys - pine cones, pine needles & stumps. Julia points up into the air at a bird. I tell her it's a crow.

A few minutes later she points over my shoulder. I look and look again, after the pattern recognition kicks in. Dang, it's a bear and a big one too ... only 60 feet away. I gather her up and retreat, rather quickly, to the open garage where we watch it circle the house.
Sorry, no pictures .. just memories. If you really need a picture, here's one from last year.

26 March 2007

Julia and space aliens

I heard some outworldish sounds coming from the office. Julia was playing some web game on the PBS KIDS site. (Yes, this is the kids variation of the respected grownup PBS site.)

I asked Julia - Who taught you how to figure out how to build the alien space ship?
She said - I figured it out all by myself.
I said - That looks like almost as much fun as carrying pine branches up to the slash pile for chipping.
She said - Papa, it's way more fun that that ...

A spring weekend at home


Spring is a busy time. The last two weekends, we away on climbing trips to Shelf Road. We had a breather this weekend. Mia & Julia planted. I cut down and trimmed trees and we all built and repaired bird houses.

Tally: 1 new bird house & 3 repaired bird houses for a total of 7 houses. We're hoping for bluebirds in at least one house. Our normal occupants are nuthatches, chickadees and tree swallows.

I dropped 11 trees and low limbed a few also. All the trees but one were under 12" in diameter. Getting ready for fire season. Ponderosa Pines like to be well spaced which allows for more water per tree. In the absence of fire, I have to play god. Healthy trees are happy trees ...

21 March 2007

Julia at 4-3/4 years old

How old are you Julia?
I'm 4-3/4 years old. (actually she's almost 5 at this point)

After she doesn't do as she's told, Mia asks: What good are you for?
Julia answers: I'm not good for anything. Just for Bussis and hugs. (Bussis is German for kisses)
We laugh good and hard at that reply.

Julia logs onto the computer by herself with her password and says things like - The browser isn't working right. Pretty funny. Not all is good though. She can be really obstinate and is not fun if she doesn't get her way. Julia's independent streak is almost scary. When we camp out, she gets bored of us fast and goes to other campsites looking for a captive audience. We had to set some ground rules around this new activity. She worries me a bit. I wonder where the future will lead her.

15 March 2007

To move or not to move ?

I've had an itch for the last year or so ... I need a new view, more acreage, easier accessible trails and still be close to the world class climbing mecca that Boulder is. A reduced mortgage would be a plus too. Julia wants more kids close by. Mia & I both want good schools and the fun downtown Boulder offers. Mia isn't so excited about moving since it's pretty dang close to perfect and the rec centers are great! Also as Julia gets older, she'll want to be driven more often to sports stuff, hang with friends etc. I could compromise with more acreage and views and less access to Boulder (I'm thinking western slope) but that'd be selfish and unfair to Mia and Julia. They are more social than I am. Boulder has a lot to offer even if it is too crowded and expensive.

What to do? This is a lose - lose situation for me. I like it where we are but I have this itch ...
Yesterday I convinced Mia to check out this place on Nugget Hill Rd, South of Jamestown. I knew it was too small but it wasn't too far OUT. I just had to see it. So we drove up. It looked pretty quiet so we drove up, over and down to the house (about 400' of driveway). It was empty so we felt ok snooping around a bit. The views were great. I really liked the feel of the place. We live in the foothills now but this is the real deal! We could check out the rooms thru the windows. Too small for us (1500 sq. ft.) but still ... No garage but it had some old leaky mining sheds for storage. It had some acreage but not very useable since much of it was somewhat steep. The real deal breaker was the private road up. (Private because it was too narrow to be maintained by the county.) Man, it was steep!! Mia said she'd be petrified driving down in bad conditions (and we have friends who have said the same about where we currently live...). If it wasn't south facing, it would be impossible for most of the winter. This would be a great place for a couple that didn't have to drive much and didn't have kids and weren't worried about resale value.

Anyway, it was an interesting excercise. I'm gonna keep looking though.

12 March 2007

A Peek at Spring

I know we'll have some hard weather before it smoothes out for summer but right now it's spring. This last weekend we climbed at Shelf Road. Climbing was a bit cool to rainy on Saturday (see Julia climbing at right) but great on Sunday. When it started raining, we checked out the Marsh [Felch] dinosaur quarry .. which every climber drives by on the way in. Julia found a dinosaur tooth, Mia found a Stegasaurus fin plate and I found some dino skin. (Not really but that's what we told Julia.) Julia was really excited because she wants to be a palentologist and can even say it correctly. :-)

Sunday, I was feeling my oats and tried climbing Purple Toe Nails, 5.11b/c. Unfortunately, my oats bag spilled on the way up. We did some great routes though especially after I decided to stick with 5.10 .. for now.

Spring was popping up at home too as evidenced by the daffodils sprouting and hammock testing.

06 March 2007

Highlights of the El Potrero Chico climbing trip

We climbed 6 of 9 days. This included 2 travel days + one rest day. We worked out a sitter for Julia on 3 of those days so we could do some longer routes. We were constrained a bit, of course. We couldn't do any bivies. Also we didn't want to stick the rope on rappel and get back too late to pick up Julia.

Most exciting climb: Aguja Cela Rey. Two pitches of 5.10. It is described as classic but we forgot that "classic" is really a code word for run out. The 2nd pitch was really EXPOSED. Aguja Cela Rey climbs the thinner spire on right (in picture). Here's a pic of Mia on top.


Best of week: Pancho Villa Rides Again (topo on photo). This was 5 pitches of 5.10. The last time we did a climb this hard was on the Diamond (Mountain Project site) and before my accident. We were pretty proud at the end of the day. To the left, is Mia finishing off the 1st pitch.

The best single pitch climb was Selam in Virgin Canyon. Although it was "only" rated 5.10a, I'd say this was a bit of a sandbag. The crux for me was clipping the bolt at the crux and avoiding the 25' fall. Since my foot popped at the crux, I almost took the dive. This was a real pitch. A 140 foot pitch. A beautiful route but I'm bring a stiff draw for the crux clip next time.

Another high point was the excellent food. We ate mostly at the Posado but Checo's was just as good. One thing I don't understand is why Mexican food in the US has cheese. Ain't no cheese in Mexico .. except for quesadillas.

Our rest day seemed to have some magic going on. There was a breeze ruffling the trees. The air seemed vibrant. I don't know what was going on but we liked it. I spent a good part of the day reading in a hammock. Some of that time Julia was on top of me talking & playing. I loved it.

We met a lot of good people. It was hard not to. The climbers walk the same road, eat in the same places and the camps are so close. Julia seemed to know everyone. At least she talked to everyone. One of her conversations somehow leaned to how we (Mia & I) met. Of course, Julia knew it all - Papa came to Germany on a climbing trip and met Mama at a party. Mama said to Papa: You are mine! What a laugh ...

This was a fantastic trip! We'll be back - hopefully next year.